Oil stable on lower U.S. rig count, but below recent highs
Oil prices were stable on Monday, supported by a slight decline in the number of U.S. rigs drilling for new production, with crude holding just below near three-year highs reached last week.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures
Brent crude futures
Traders said the gains were due to a slight decline in the number of U.S. rigs drilling for new production, which eased by five in the week to Jan. 5 to 742, according to data from oil services firm Baker Hughes.
Despite this, U.S. production
“The U.S. oil price is now into a range that is anticipated to attract increased shale oil production,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.
“Traders may decide that discretion is the better part of valor while markets wait on evidence of what happens to the rig count and production levels over the next couple of months.”
Rising U.S. production is the main factor countering production cuts led by the Middle East-dominated Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and by Russia, which began in January last year and are set to last through 2018.
Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia/Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore, said “the OPEC vs shale debate will rage” this year, being a key price driving factor.
However, Innes added that Middle East turmoil would remain a key focus for oil markets, which he warned had the potential to “send oil prices rocketing higher”.
(Reporting by Henning Gloystein and Florence Tan; Editing by Richard Pullin and Christian Schmollinger)
By Henning Gloystein